More on the Shadow Side of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Posted by: richardmgreen ()
Date: July 12, 2007 01:00AM

Sunday, July 08, 2007
More on the Shadow Side of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Judaism acknowledges that everyone has a shadow side and it’s called the yetzer hara or “the evil inclination.” The evil inclination in a person can be sublimated, subdued and transformed by spiritual studies and the performance of good deeds or mitzvoth.
It is the life work of a person to master his negative side and a person has to be very careful to do so. The abridged Shulchan Orech (a book on Jewish law), says in the appendix at the back, that “a person has a duty to himself to keep himself free of sin and pure.”
You owe it primarily to yourself to avoid getting into a bad situation and hurting yourself. When I was at AT&T, we used to say, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. “
My take on what happened with Shlomo was that he started off with an idea that was basically faulty. He thought he was a Doctor of the soul and that he was purified enough to go around hugging and kissing everyone, including woman. He was actually told off by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Rabbi Feinstein was the Gadol Hador, or the premier Torah expositor in his day ) over it. Shlomo claimed that after WWII every living human being, let alone every Jew, was a miracle and he wanted to hug and kiss all the miracles.
Furthermore, Shlomo thought his music was a type of medicine of the soul and (I concur on this by the way, I think his Psalm based melodies afford me spiritual protection) he didn’t like it when people changed the way he wrote the melody lines, harmonies and chords to his songs. He used to say, “When the Doctor gives you a prescription, you don’t change it around.”
A second problem is that a person of great stature, a leader, is given a stronger yetzer hara than a relatively weak and insignificant person. According to the Torah, King David was given a very big shadow side because it was needed to juxtapose his strengths, he being the leader of the Jewish people in his day.
There were also many plusses to Shlomo. He preached a gospel of being non-judgmental and he traveled the globe trying to revive and reinvigorate many souls who were burned out by their daily trial and tribulations. The pain of the average Jew, as far as I could tell was something Shlomo himself wanted to alleviate.
History will be the final judge of the impact of Shlomo Carlebach on history and on the Jewish people. His stature in the Jewish community will be weighed in the fine balance of the scales of justice and his deeds will be sorted out based on their plusses and minuses. Time will tell, when the dust settles, just what history will record of him, be it good or bad or mixed.
My guess is that his legacy will bear the mark of his negative side as well as his charitable nature and it will actually be impossible to separate the two. His life was a mixed bag.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's Good Side
Posted by: richardmgreen ()
Date: April 27, 2009 01:46AM

There has been a good amount of information published on this website, mostly by me, about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Moshav Me’or Modi’in and the Carlebach movement in general.
What needs to be shown besides all the negative and problematic aspects of the BT movement and its leaders, is also the positive side of it which I why I went back a few times. Rabbi Yeshua Witt once told me that of all the people who came to him and left, I was the only repeat customer. The purpose of this posting is to display the reasons I came back. One reason is that my paternal grandmother was Orthodox and I have some of it in my blood. When my grandfather married her, he was Orthodox too.
I met Shlomo when I was 15 in 1974. I started going to his concerts when I was involved with Jack Hickman. I was also close to Hickman too for awhile but not close enough to be hurt by his homosexuality. But this posting is about Rabbi Carlebach and his good side.
As I mentioned already, Shlomo and his music were remedies for my depression in my youth. I took up playing his music on the guitar and I still listen to him and his daughter Neshama.
One day, I saw him after a show before I went to Modi’in and I asked him if I could play his guitar. This was between January 30th of ’77 and May of ’78 as I took up the guitar the day before my 18th birthday and left the USA for Israel in ‘78. Shlomo told me I could play his instrument and I am wondering just who else was given clearance to do this. I don’t even know if Yeshua Witt ever did it. He even told me what his favorite niggun was and I am pretty sure that no one else knows it even his widow Neila. I won’t reveal what he told me though.
Anyway, I drove the poor rabbi up a tree in Israel when I started to accompany him in concert. While I could do a kumsitz and play and sing as a solo act, I couldn’t play in a band as I couldn’t hear my guitar above everyone else in the chevra and not even when I accompanied Shlomo as a duet.
Shlomo used to turn sideways on stage so I could see his fingers dart around the guitar’s fret board. He really bent over backwards for me and that is an additional reason why I still love the man. And don’t be mistaken, he was a big, important person but I felt that after I was abused by my father, who came from a frum home and after being abused by anti-Semites growing up on LI, NY that I had the right to tag up with a major rabbi. And Shlomo was really a saint in many ways.
One day, Shlomo took me to Lod city near the Moshav. He asked me to play Esso Einai – Psalm 121 - and I couldn’t and got very flustered and sad. He said, “Oh, Reuven” and he bought a steak for me. One of the really frustrating things was that our ranges different and I couldn’t sing with him. One day, I figured out that I could sing, Chemdat Hayamim, “The happiness of the Shabbat” or something to that effect paraphrased and he was so happy as I could sing it loudly. He was smiling very hard. I never saw him smile like that before or since anywhere.
One of the things that being with him and going to Israel at his invite did for me was to let me experiment and put things in perspective. I no longer tortured my family about why they weren’t Orthodox and I realized my own limitations. Conservative Hebrew school was good but in Israel I got to see just what being an Orthodox Jew was affording me as lifestyle and it showed me, well, it showed me that I never was going to become the next Rav Moshe Feinstein and I wasn’t going down in history as the Vilna Gaon or the Ba’al Shem Tov either. They used to call me “Shlomo Carlebach Jr.” in Ben Yishai, however. I wish I could have lived up to it in many ways.
And Shlomo told Yeshua Witt to take good care of me and while I bombed out in Israel, I found a lot of love and support in the Carlebach movement. When I had problems with my ex-wife, her family called Shlomo up and he defended me. He knew me well enough to know that I was not a bad guy and he, unlike Lubavitch, treated me like I had a track record with him. He also couldn’t figure out why I left him and after I came back to him a month before his passing, he didn’t know how badly I got burned by Chabad and Yeshua Witt was infuriated at Chabad over what they did to me.
I may have mentioned it before but he didn’t just sing beautiful songs and tell wild stories. He gave people ethical teachings too and it was very important. On the Nachmu Ami recording, (“Comfort ye my people”) he goes on to say that you see a poor Jew (he helped out non-Jews too unlike a particular rabbi that I have very little in the way of good feelings toward) and you just came from the Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem and had a big breakfast so it is unfair that you don’t give the poor person some tzedakah (“charity”) when he may not have eaten for a week.” His was a much needed influence in a day and age where so many popular singers and performers are shallow and unspiritual and even worse unholy
Shlomo died October 20th in ’94 and I miss him very much. He used to call me “Reuven the Holy Weightlifter” even though Rabbi Nachman of Breslov put down “bodybuilders.” He saw the good side of people and he could also himself see his own limitations.
It is problematic though when you see how he didn’t patch things up with those women he abused and it hurts me that he messed himself up. It is also sad that his family didn’t allow those women to vent and Neila said, “All they want to do is hurt his legacy,” but I am sure it’s not the case because from what I know no one else on this site even discussed the issue and also from what I know, they vented to that hotline that Lillith magazine put up and were heard from no more. In many ways he was really a great man and his loss is a big one for a lot of people especially me.

Re: Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's Good Side: The bombs are my fault!
Posted by: richardmgreen ()
Date: February 23, 2011 12:41AM

I am being blamed by the Carlebach Shul’s Rebbe, Rabbi Y. Saffrin of being responsible for destroying Israel’s “spiritual armor.” Here’s what happened:
Everyone who has read my writings on this forum know about the various problems that I have experienced in the course of my life in regards to religion.
In ’95, the Carlebach Shul’s leaders shipped me to Israel and I couldn’t find work. But worse than that while saying tehillim (“psalms”) at the grave of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, one of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s students was looking for the latter’s grave. For some reason I told him that I think it was because of people like him that people didn’t’ like me. He told me, “Good!” I take exception to that.
Add to that all the death threats I have gotten and well, what more can I say. Let’s fast forward. In ’01, I wrote a letter to Haaretz, one of Israel’s’ English language newspapers applauding the efforts of pushing through the Haredi Draft Bill. Haredi means, “Those in awe of God,” a term for Ultra Orthodox Jews. I called all the Haredim to get armed forces exemptions “a bunch of parasites that have been sucking the blood of people like me since time immemorial.” Rabbi Saffrin claims that the bombs started going off after my email was published. My therapist yesterday told me that I was a very powerful person. Sure, and the whole global economic meltdown is also my fault and so are the changes in the ecosystem. Yeesh!

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